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A lively look at 200 years of artists who defined Maine

“We want to provoke responses. We want to encourage conversations," Frank Goodyear, Bowdoin College Museum of Art co-director, said.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — In 2020, Maine was ready to launch a big, year-long party to celebrate its 200th birthday as a state. Then COVID-19 came along and crashed the party — the festivities ended before they even had a chance to get rolling.

One of the events that had been planned for the bicentennial celebration was an exhibition at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art called “At First Light: Two Centuries of Artists in Maine." 

It is now, better late than never, on display. 

The exhibition contains paintings, photos, baskets, and more, and while it’s not a comprehensive survey, it offers a deep look at the art and artists that have defined the state since 1820.

“We are very mindful of the fact that we are barely even skimming the surface in this exhibition,” museum Co-Director Anne Collins Goodyear said. “We have approximately one hundred works on view, but in many ways, this is a sampling and, we hope, a launching pad for the future projects to really dig into the visual arts in Maine.”

The hope is that the exhibition and the book that accompanies it, also called “At First Light," will get people to look at Maine art with fresh eyes and then talk, argue, debate. 

“Museums are not supposed to be quiet places,” said museum Co-Director Frank Goodyear. “We want to provoke responses. We want to encourage conversation.”

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